Written by Ashley Koh

What happened?

Singapore is truly living up to its name of being the most expensive city to live in, with customers being charged for a glass of water from more food and beverage outlets (F&B outlets). Diners are traditionally not charged for a glass of tap water, but the surging cost of operations has pushed restaurants to break with tradition and charge more for water. A glass of water can cost between $0.30 to $1.00, while other restaurants do not provide free drinking water but sell bottled water for approximately $1.50 instead. Many diners feel that paying for a glass of water is not worth the money charged, and may even opt to purchase soft drinks to make their money’s worth. However, there are those who are unable to enjoy sugary drinks, such as diabetics, and would still have to resort to paying for tap water that is served at restaurants.

Perhaps it’s not that simple..

Restaurateurs have similarly voiced their rationale behind imposing charges on glasses of water. This could be attributed, albeit not entirely, to the rising water prices that saw a 30% hike in 2017. Many restaurateurs have stressed that the surging costs of manpower and resources are more consequential. Higher water bills to provide drinking water and to clean used cups, as well as to hire more manpower all add up to larger overall costs which squeeze the profit margins of restaurants. To survive in the cut throat F&B industry, restaurateurs would have no choice but to pass the cost down to customers. (But maybe we could bring our own reusable bottles instead to save the environment!)

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